Lasers, Dragons, and Keyboards Podcast

Sci-fi, fantasy, and writing–who could ask for more?

LDK 73/74: Don’t Ask Permission to Create Art (with H.L. Burke)

This week we have hopeless romantic, H.L. (Heidi) Burke on the show. She’s totally obsessed with dragons, but we know a few people who also are, so we won’t hold it against her.

In episode 73:

  • We discuss the Eros & Psyche myth again (see Laura VAB’s recent episode for more E&P!) as H.L.’s book, Coiled, is based on the myth.
  • Heidi’s desire to go “aww” while writing.
  • How we have to release our books to the world and they become a part of the world instead of ours.
  • Myths are out of copyright—we can plagiarize them!
  • Can snakes get sea sick?
  • Star Trek rants!
  • Re-reading on Goodreads
  • Myers Briggs analysis of characters


In episode 74:

  • The evolution of a pantser to a plotter
  • Guess which of Heidi’s offspring might be a future Bond villain!
  • Lyrics in music? Yes or no?
  • The adventures of being a military wife
  • Why Heidi doesn’t think she’s a very deep person.
  • Working with an editor when you’ve been self-published first
  • How Sarah picks her release dates
  • Aaron warns new authors about vanity presses
  • Who is Theodore??





LDK 72 – Andrew Winch

We have Andrew Winch on this week, who is the executive editor with Splickety Publishing group where he’s worked with a whole host of authors including Jerry B. Jenkins, Tosca Lee, and Robert Liparulo. He’s a full time physical therapist when he’s not running around with Ben Wolf.

In this episode:

  • Google is a wonderful thing. 😉
  • Who is Ben Wolflichman?
  • Wrangling flaming pigs
  • Gothic horror / steampunk
  • Weird stuff submitted to Splickety (hint: did you guess frog erotica?)
  • Andrew’s love of creepy stuff
  • Don’t edit your voice out of your story!!!
  • Is writing flash fiction a perfectionist’s game?
  • What 3 tips would Andrew give to improve your writing?
  • Why you should read women’s fiction.
  • You have to write a great story.
  • Supporting characters Andrew wants to know more about!


LDK 71 – The Magic of Lorehaven

In this episode, we sit down with E. Stephen Burnett, who, along with Ben Wolf (see episodes 10 & 11), is the co-founder of the forthcoming e-magazine, Lorehaven.

Stephen is a former print journalist who now helps run and other faith-based websites that focus on fiction–including Lorehaven. He hails from Texas.

In episode 71:

  • What Lorehaven is–and what it won’t be.
  • What is a flash review?
  • Stephen’s favorite version of Star Trek.
  • Lorehaven’s goal to create book clubs.
  • The broader content goals of Lorehaven.
  • Who should everyone be reading?
  • What is Stephen watching? Wonder Woman? Anime?



LDK 69/70 – Paul D. Smith

On this episode, we have Paul Smith, friend of previous guests, CW Briar and Jon Brhel. He’s author of Jason and the Draconauts!

Paul Smith lives in upstate New York with his wife and two sons, where he works with emotionally disturbed and mentally ill children. He earned a master’s degree in social sciences from Binghamton University in 1999. A lifelong love of science fiction, fantasy, and superhero stories influences Paul’s writing. His most recent work was a popular weekly online series that generated over 20,000 views. Jason and the Draconauts is his first novel.

In Episode 69:

  • Writing for your kids
  • Creating dragons! Who’s going to argue with a dragon?
  • D&D’s influence in Paul’s writing
  • How to NOT plagiarise
  • Aaron wants to read a story about Captain America riding a dragon
  • Does the TARDIS have a loading bay?
  • Black Ops Helicopters
  • Sean Connery

In Episode 70:

  • The pitfalls of pantsing
  • The guys give Liberty a hard time for ditching her outline
  • Liberty keeps bringing up Scrivener…
  • Bluetooth keyboards!
  • Why reading out loud is an important editing tool.
  • Paul’s techniques for battling writer’s block and why he hates frustration.
  • Paul’s thoughts on conventions and selling books on them.
  • Whether FB ads are worth the paper they’re printed on…
  • Including fandom quotes in our books!
  • What do your books teach you in the course of the writing?
  • Get words on paper



LDK 67/68 – Alara’s Call & Kristen Stieffel

This week, we have Kristen Stieffel, author of the debut novel, Alara’s Call.

Kristen Stieffel is a freelance writer and editor specializing in science fiction and fantasy. She’s the associate editor of Havok, a flash fiction magazine focused on the speculative genres. Kristen provides author mentoring and a full range of editorial services in multiple genres for both the general market and the Christian submarket. Kristen is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Christian Editor Connection and is a Word Weavers International mentor.

In Episode 67:

  • Kristen’s impetus for writing Alara’s Call.
  • How President Dwight Eisenhower factors in to Kristen’s book.
  • Kristen admits how long it took to write the book.
  • How her setting was designed to fit the story.
  • Mentor characters yelling at the main character’s father!
  • How long does it take to cremate a horse? (Aaron isn’t telling PETA.)
  • We get into an argument about Kristen’s favorite spec fic quote.
  • Aaron refrains from going full über-nerd! (We’re all grateful.)

In Episode 68:

  • Plotting! Pantsing! Who knows?! Start with the end in mind.
  • He said WHAT?!
  • Writing out of order.
  • How do you K.O. a piece of paper?
  • All hail the wonders of Scrivener!
  • How MCs can change in the course of the book.
  • Hurricane brain
  • Write through the crap!
  • Snacking! Tea!
  • Bollywood!
  • Classical Crossover music
  • Kristen’s longest trip for a writer’s conference.
  • Why do people complain about book prices?
  • Gotta have the big parts in your novel first.

Kristen’s Facebook Party (9/21/2017)


LDK 65/66 – Sarah White

We sat down with the delightful Sarah White, author of Halayda, but Josh couldn’t join us. So it was up to Liberty to rein in Aaron! Or does he have to rein her in? Hmmm…

Sarah Delena White writes epic fantasy, steampunk, and reworkings of mythology with complex characters, rich world-building, and a fine balance of poetry and snark. When she’s not writing or editing, she can be found making jewelry, singing Irish ballads, drinking tea, and working a variety of odd jobs. She occasionally remembers to eat and sleep, because those things are apparently important. She can be bribed with dark chocolate. Halayda is her debut novel.

In Episode 65:

  • Sarah keeps very busy!
  • Halayda‘s unique blend of subgenres and unique beginnings
  • Yes, this is a kissing book!
  • Sarah’s research into Scottish & Irish faeries
  • More questionable search histories!
  • Aaron’s rabbit trail about the difference between the Russian space program and NASA
  • Liberty’s rabbit trail about Apollo 13
  • Short word counts vs. long word counts!

In Episode 66:

  • Normally, we have rabbit trails. But this week, we have rabbit AND chicken trails! (That sounds worse than it is…)
  • Plotting v pantsing … and having a point she’s working toward
  • Deleted/bonus scenes!
  • Sarah’s use of a certain social media platform in her research
  • The necessity of the right brand of Earl Grey tea.
  • Twitter Hashtag Games!
  • Irish folklore & ARROW



THE LOST EPISODES! LDK 54 & 55 — Deanna Fugett

This week, we talk with Deanna Fugett (not to be confused with Deanna Troi). We get right into it with a discussion about oddly named characters, and where some of these names come from (don’t ask…)

Next, because this is a speculative fiction show, we talk at length about Little House on the Prairie (Of course…) Liberty wasn’t around this week to steer us back on track… (because she spontaneously combusted… well, that’s our story, anyway…)

We eventually got back on track (kind of…), and learned that Josh loves depressing endings (Aaron can’t stand them…)

Who’s Deanna’s favorite super hero? Is it Green Arrow? Super Grover? You’ll have to listen to find out.

Does Deanna prefer Scrivener? Word? Pen? Crayon?

We also take a quick break to provide a public service announcement of things computers don’t like (such as hammers and crumbs…)

Lingo 101… We’re thinking of making this a regular feature…

And last, but not least, being eaten alive (metaphorically…)

Some of Deanna’s favorite authors:
– Liberty
– Aaron
– Josh (he’s almost done…)
– Lynn Austin, who writes historical fiction/romance. She has a really good series set in the Civil War (U.S. History, not Marvel, sadly) that does a good job of showing the conflict and motivation from both sides. (Also, if you like history, check out “Across Five Aprils”)

Deanna thinks critique groups are pretty darn important. We think so too!

Extrovert shadowing!


Episode 54
Episode 55



LDK 63 & 64 – The Heir with Avily Jerome

After a way-too-long hiatus from publishing, we’re finally getting back into the swing of things! On this episode of the show, recorded WAAAAAY back in the spring (we won’t bring up Liberty’s scheduling/production issues), we have with us the one and only Avily Jerome. We know Avily from the Realm Maker’s conference, where she sometimes body-doubles President Donald Trump. But she’s also an amazingly talented author who wrote The Heir. As you’ll find out, Avily likes to laugh as much as we do, and her snarky brand of humor was a great fit with your hosts’ funny bones.

In Episode 63:

  • Avily’s book, The Heir, and her serial The Amulet Saga.
  • Avily’s favorite character, and that character’s role.
  • Josh’s TBR list grows to over 2,000.
  • How people in Avily’s life have responded to her art.
  • Christians don’t have to write strictly Christian characters.
  • Changing settings and how they change the story.
  • Avily’s favorite scenes in books.

In Episode 64:

  • Plotting or pantsing…and how her research affects this.
  • Steve Irwin…Mermaid Hunter…
  • Crazy NaNo+ word counts
  • Avily and her organizational methods
  • My Evil Mermaid
  • How Avily deals with writer’s block
  • Dealing with people who don’t like what you write.
  • Develop a thick skin.
  • Darkside Cookies

As discussed in the show:


LDK 62 – Laura VanArendonk Baugh

This week, we hang out with second-time guest, Laura VanArendonk Baugh (try saying that one three times fast!) We last visited with Laura in episodes 39 & 40 (which you can find here). Last time we spoke, we discussed her Japanese culture books. But this time, she takes us to a different culture altogether with The Songweaver’s Vow, which is a retelling of Ares and Psyche, but in the Norwegian culture rather than Greek.

In this episode:

    • Laura’s unique view on fiction
    • Laura’s upcoming trilogy…that she may or may not be working on…an epic fantasy. (Angst porn!)
    • Laura’s research in Denmark. Nine months of winter and mead!
    • Laura’s take on Greek and Norse mythology.
    • Having a reader warning on her books.
    • On writing Loki.
    • Who would Laura go on a quest with?

Greek mythology is all about people having sex. Norse mythology is all about people on LSD. ~ Laura VAB


Laura VanArendonk Baugh
The Songweaver’s Vow

Details on our contest!

Our first ever contest!

Write a 1,000 or less fan fiction featuring Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings fame) and River Song (Doctor Who with David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi). PG-13 rating max. You can put them in whatever scenario or world you want and whatever other characters you want as long as you feature them.


E-book of The Songweaver’s Vow.
E-book or Audible of Liberty Speidel’s Omission.
E-book of Aaron DeMott’s A New Threat.
An opportunity to come on the show and talk about whatever you want to talk about, plus read your winning short story.

Deadlines and contact:

E-mail your polished story in standard manuscript format (12-point Times New Roman, 1 inch margins, double-spaced) to no later than September 5th, 2017. Winner will be announced on an upcoming episode of the show and selected by the hosts and Laura VanArendonk Baugh. Timeframe on when winner will be selected depends on number of entries. We will e-mail you back to confirm receipt of your story. Please put “Sam & River” in the subject line.



Amy McNew – take two…

Author Amy Brock McNew

Our guest tonight is Amy Brock McNew, who apparently can’t stay away. Our hosts, though, I’m not sure about. We apparently have two Liberties, and one Josh… I think…

Tonight’s topic… Venison, and how delicious it is! …uh, I mean, we’re talking about Amy’s second book, Reconciliation.


You might not want to listen to this podcast (Episodes 22 & 23) if you haven’t read the first book in the series. Go read, then come back and listen to this episode.

Go on… we’ll wait…

Wow, it’s a little mushy in here as we talk about putting yourself back in old situations, re-living old hurts and fears as we put our characters in similar situations… and the healing that can come with dealing with those emotions.

Enough of that, let’s go hunt moose and squirrel!

In this episode:

  • Differences in writing Rebirth versus Reconciliation
  • The catharsis of writing
  • Prayer & forgiveness
  • Russian Ninja Barbie!
  • Amy’s passion for helping women get out of human trafficking.
  • Fighting with your husband (as story research)
  • Casting the Reluctant Warriors
  • We are Groot!
  • Reading our own books for pleasure
  • Rebirth NOT on sale now
  • Amy’s combat demo videos!


Amy Brock McNew
Exodus Road
Eve’s Angels
Destiny Rescue
Stripped Love
Nadine Brandes
Accelerant by Ronie Kendig

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